A joyous as well as a sometimes sad occasion

Qingming, meaning "clear and bright," is one of the 24 solar terms. It is marked by frequent rain in Shanghai and the rest of south China.
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

A boy lays flowers at Longhua Martyrs’ Cemetery in Shanghai yesterday. 

SO what is Qingming all about?

Qingming, meaning “clear and bright,” is one of the 24 solar terms. It is marked by frequent rain in Shanghai and the rest of south China, and suggests a change of climate featuring warmer weather and more rain.

It usually falls on April 4 or 5, 106 days after dongzhi, or winter solstice, and it is regarded as a good time to plant seeds.

The key event of Qingming is to visit and clean up, or sweep, the tombs of departed family members. But Qingming is a joyous as well as a sometimes sad occasion.

People offer sacrifices such as fruit, food, drinks and they also burn paper money and paper ingots. Prepared food is carefully placed in front of the gravestone as a “treat” to the spirit of ancestors. The paper money is supposed to ensure a comfortable afterlife. People sometimes burn paper computers and phones to keep ancestors stay “up to date.”

Citizens enjoy the holiday in Minhang Sports Park in Shanghai yesterday.

The tomb is tided up with weeds removed. Flowers are brought and old soil replaced. People bow or kowtow to pay their respects.

Qingtuan, a sweet green glutinous rice ball, is a must for the festival in Shanghai. Qingming is also the time to enjoy knife fish and green tea.

A variety of events accompanies Qingming Festival, with a spring outing being one of the most popular as well as being a tradition that goes back to ancient times. Swinging, the ancient game of kicking balls, planting trees and flying kites are other popular events.

It is said that affluent families rode in palanquins to sweep tombs. They gathered together with relatives and friends, eating and drinking wine after the formalities.

In Shanghai, peach, cherry, orchid, peony and azaleas are in full bloom at Shanghai Botanical Garden, Gongqing Forest Park, Binjiang Forest Park and Chenshan Botanical Garden, as well as in Datuan, Laogang, Huinan and Xinchang towns, together presenting plenty of choices for a spring outing.

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